Big decisions ahead for many graduating seniors

With the end of the year quickly approaching, many UI seniors continue to face difficulties securing employment after graduation. In the current economic crisis, and with so many college graduates competing for jobs, many will take up internships until they find full-time work. Katie Flint, assistant director at the Career Center, says students need to keep their options open and start preparing early.

“If you haven’t started searching yet, start now. If you haven’t come in to see us yet, we always hope to see a senior before their last semester,” she said.

Flint also said that most internship deadlines are in the late winter and early spring, and that new opportunities are available almost every month. For students looking for employment within a specific company or organization, Flint said getting a resume in their hands early is important.

Students like Christina Poon, senior in the college of Engineering, who has a full-time job with benefits and relocation assistance waiting for her after graduation, said starting the search early paid off.

For others, like Heather Grames, senior in the college of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, the job search has only just begun.

“I’ve only just started seriously looking,” said Grames, “but I’m staying positive because I’m willing to travel. I believe that gives me a lot more options.”

However, Flint acknowledges that many students won’t land their “dream job” at first. For those students, there are other options.

Erin Crowley, senior in the college of Liberal Arts and Sciences, who has struggled to find employment, is now considering those other options.

“I am looking to teach English in Spain. I will be acquiring skills in Spanish while I wait for the economy to recover,” Crowley said.

Many students grapple with the decision of settling for an internship or holding out for a job. Flint advises against waiting, and strongly suggests using that time to instead build contacts and gain experience.

“Obviously if you are offered a job related to your field, you should take it,” Flint said. “But if that’s not the case, taking an internship somewhat related to your field is better than taking a random job not related to your line of work.”

Flint also notes that sometimes those internships can turn into full-time jobs down the road.

Ellen Bro, senior in the college of LAS, worked a summer internship that turned into a part-time job, and will continue to work there after graduating.

Still, for those who can’t secure an internship or a full-time job post graduation, Flint says do not be discouraged.

“Stay involved in organizations in and out of school, volunteer, and keep looking for job and internship opportunities,” she said. “Take on class projects that demonstrate your skills to future employers. We can help you apply those experiences to your resume and make it applicable to your job search.”

Flint also described a few of the many resources that are available to students here on campus.

“You can sit down with a counselor and take an inventory of your experience and job entries. On our Web site, we have all kinds of links to job boards,” she said.

Poon, who used the Engineering Career Services Web site, had three job offers to choose from.

Flint added that also on the Career Center Web site is a list of special tips for successful job searching, noting that oftentimes the search methods are the source of the problem.

“The number one mistake I see students make is that they only try one way of landing a job or internship,” she said. “Some students just check the same job boards again and again and don’t follow up on them. I’m not saying give up completely; I just think there are other options worth trying.”